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Virgin Islands Health Care Exchange

The Affordable Care Act provides for the establishment of “Exchanges,” which will be entities where uninsured individuals (who are not eligible for Medicaid) and small businesses can purchase qualified private health insurance plans. Exchanges are intended to expand the availability and accessibility of health insurance by providing “one-stop shopping” that will enable Americans to find a plan that is right for them. The idea behind the Exchanges is to “pool” the purchasing power of those individuals and small employers who are not covered by group plans utilized by big businesses and thereby reduce the cost of health care and increase competition for the business by the insurance companies.

The Virgin Islands will have the option of establishing an Exchange and must make its election by Oct. 1, 2013. If its opts to create an Exchange, the Virgin Islands can receive up to $30 million in federal funds to provide premium and cost-sharing assistance to residents buying insurance through the Exchange. That assistance would help to provide relief to families who have no insurance or otherwise could not afford to buy it. If the Territory elects not to create an Exchange, this allocation can be traded for additional Medicaid dollars.

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